The Bishop of Oswestry is a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Lichfield who fulfils the role of a provincial episcopal visitor in the Church of England.
Following the first ordinations of women in 1993 to the priesthood in the Church of England, Bishops suffragan of Ebbsfleet and of Richborough were appointed "provincial episcopal visitors" - known as "flying bishops" - to provide episcopal oversight for parishes throughout the province of Canterbury which reject the ministry of bishops who have participated in the ordination of women.
In June 2022, it was announced that, from January 2023, oversight of traditionalist Anglo-Catholics in the west of Canterbury province (formerly the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's area) would be taken by a new Bishop of Oswestry, suffragan to the Bishop of Lichfield; while oversight of conservative Evangelicals (formerly the duties of a Bishop suffragan of Maidstone) would be taken by the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet.The Bishop of Oswestry is to serve the western 13 dioceses of the southern province (Bath and Wells, Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Oxford, Salisbury, Truro, and Worcester). On 2 December 2022, it was announced that Paul Thomas, Vicar of St James's Church, Paddington, is to be the first Bishop of Oswestry; he will be consecrated in February 2023.
The choice of Oswestry as name of the see was publicly criticised by Oswestry town councillor, Jonathon Upton, who in a letter to the Bishop of Lichfield, protested: "The response received to this announcement in Oswestry is one of upset and anger. The people of Oswestry feel deeply unhappy that our town's name is being used by the Anglican church as a tool of appeasing the opponents of gender equality and modern interpretation of the scripture." He reported St Oswald's Parish Church had declared it supported female clergy or clergy from the LGBT community working with it, and that apart from St Oswald's and the other parish church in the town, ordained women were serving the remainder of the area's rural parishes as vicars.
|Bishops of Oswestry|
|February 2023||Paul Thomas||announced December 2022; to be consecrated February 2023|
The Diocese of Lichfield is a Church of England diocese in the Province of Canterbury, England. The bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Chad in the city of Lichfield. The diocese covers 4,516 km2 (1,744 sq mi) of several counties: almost all of Staffordshire, northern Shropshire, a significant portion of the West Midlands, and very small portions of Warwickshire and Powys (Wales).
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Paul Richard Thomas, is a British Anglican priest. Since 2011, he has been vicar of St James's Church, Paddington. In December 2022, it was announced that he would be the first Bishop of Oswestry, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield and the provincial episcopal visitor for the western half of the Province of Canterbury. He will be consecrated in February 2023.